How to Shoot Texture Photography

Texture Photography is a way to add more depth, creativity, and abstract qualities to your portfolio. Texture can be the focal point of the image or a part of the image that you bring to attention. Remember, from my first post that textures bring out emotions; they visually describe what we can feel with our hands. Textures are defined, by contrast, patterns, and depth. You can shoot them anytime and anyplace. Let’s spend some time exploring camera settings to capture the textures around you. 

Camera Settings: 

Camera: The great news about shooting textures is you can do it with any camera and any lens! Shooting with any focal length, you can capture texture. If you want a close-up shot I will choose a macro lens of at least 100MM. A zoom lens 100-300mm can work nicely too when you can’t get close to the subject. You can always crop it in post-processing. 

Settings:  Setting your Aperture at f6 or higher will allow you to get detailed, sharp images. However, you can also capture texture at an f2.8-f4, you will just have less in focus, and a blurred background. Think about your vision for showcasing the texture. Ask these questions: 

  • Do you want an abstract image, one where people get curious about what it is?
  • Do you want the subject crystal clear and pronounced? 
  • What is your background? Does it enhance or take away from the image? A poor quality background would require a lower f-stop number to hide the background. 

Let me show you the difference in f-stop. 

For this image, I would choose the wide-open f-stop f-3.5 in order to blur the background. 

With these images, the background is not distracting so I would choose the f-8 and f-13 images to highlight the texture.

These examples show the ability to capture more detail with a higher f-number when your background is not an issue. 

Tripod: A tripod is recommended if you want to prevent camera shake, you prefer to shoot with a tripod, or you have a tricky subject to capture, and using a tripod will help. I prefer to shoot handheld, and so I will raise my ISO a little to compensate for any camera shake. 

Lighting: Lighting is critical for any type of photography. Texture photography needs to have good light. The light will impact the quality of your image and the amount of detail.  The light around the subject can be frustrating sometimes as you can see the texture and want to capture it, but the light makes the image flat. While you can capture textures any time of day, you need to be careful to watch for shadows across the subject or for flat light that is taking away from the texture. I find it best to photography in the early light or late evening at dusk. You want to try to avoid direct midday light unless you have a cloudy day. Shooting inside, you can control the light, seek different light sources and direction of light. 

Composition: This is where texture photography gets fun! The great news is you can break all the rules with textures. It is really up to you how you want to capture and compose the subject. Often fill the frame is going to showcase the details; other times, you may want a more abstract image with just a slice of the subject. Think about the lines and patterns in the subject, how to best frame the image to enhance the natural beauty. Try different perspectives for a creative look. You really can’t go wrong with composing the image if you are genuinely focused on the fine details of the texture and ensuring they are center stage. Keeping your background simple and removing distracting elements from the image will provide a stable composition. 

Get started this week with texture photography! Take a photo walk and just capture all the textures that you see. Don’t worry if they aren’t all keepers the first time, just get out and begin teaching your eye to focus on the fine details, pattern, and contrast in the world around you. The next post will focus on creative ways to capture texture photos. 

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